'Call Em Out Fridays': Samuel Peter - A Nigerian Nightmare, Or An American Fantasy?
03.10.08 - By Vivek Wallace: In this weeks 'Call Em Out Fridays' segment we take a look at a fighter who has somehow accomplished the difficult task of landing somewhere in between the highly acclaimed and the not-so-superb. No matter who it is you ask, when discussing the ability and perceived greatness of Samuel Peter it always seems to involve a very decorated 'but'. He's pretty good, but....He's pretty powerful, but.....He seems ready to take over the division, but.
Article posted on 03.10.2008
It's a bit hard to nail down why the opinions tend to come in split versions, but today as we call-out the 'Nigerian Nightmare', we examine why this trend is. In the same fashion we perform every week in the 'Call Em Out Fridays' installment, we'll take a look at the Supportive perspective, the Critics Perspective, and after I toss my thoughts into the hat, we'll let you, the readers chime in..
Samuel Peter - (Supportive Perspective): For years, the heavyweight division has lacked punch. Not since the early days of "Iron" Mike Tyson has the division seen a fighter with that ferocious, explosive nature that fans crave. Not to be confused with Mike Tyson, because there's obviously a difference in ultimate presentation, but for some, Peter served as a figure who could potentially become the man in the heavyweight division to carry that mantle. Supporting that belief was the fact that he came out the gates dropping bombs, knocking out 21 of his first 24 opponents, and doing it in a rather fascinating fashion. That type of power coupled with a granite chin made Peter an early favorite to eventually rule the division. Another thing that has made Peter a fan fave is his heart, as witnessed in many fights where he found himself on the canvas, only to gut it out and come back to earn the victory. The odd thing about Peter was the fact that he's not known as a fighter who does any one thing too brilliantly, but he does a ton of things good, and combined, it goes very far in keeping him somewhere near the top of the pack in the heavyweight division. Helping the cause for Peter from a personal standpoint was the fact that unlike most fighters of this era, a man of few words, Peter tends to do his real talking in the ring. A devout Christian, Peter has been nothing less than a class act who serves as a very iconic figure for those of his homeland who in many ways idolize his efforts and actions while living out their dreams through him.
Samuel Peter - (Critics Perspective): As great as it's been to witness the ascent of Samuel Peter, there's still a wide base of fans who feel that there's simply too many questions surrounding the powerful pugilist. In recent times, the focus has shifted to his stamina, which has often appeared less than stellar. In days of the past it's been his overall skill level, which has been very adequate on some nights, pretty marginal on others. All in all, listening to the harsh critics view around the sport it appears that most feel the overall consistency in performance has simply not been there. Perfect evidence of this was the great heart he displayed against Klitschko, despite the loss, and the subsequent performance against McCline where he found himself on the canvas early and often, despite the victory. Same thing against James Toney where he found himself struggling to get the "W" in the first fight, only to turn around and put together a much more solid performance, virtually winning every round of the fight in their rematch. All those who initially jumped on his bandwagon and expected to see this great rise to dominance suddenly found themselves re-thinking their strategy as Peter would - in the minds of most - fall considerably short of the Tyson comparisons and ultimately leave some even wondering whether he has much of an upside at all. At the tender age of a fresh 28, one would think that Peter would have the energy of a bull, but weight, focus, and stamina have all plagued him at some point or another. Whether they continue to remains to be seen, but for the time being, those issues have given many room to talk.
Samuel Peter - (This Writers Perspective): I think when you truly analyze Samuel Peter it's safe to say that he is what he is. Which is a late-bloomer in the sport whose strength, coupled with a few intangibles put him on par to make a significant statement when few others in the sports most acclaimed division could. Few seem to note the fact that Peter is a fighter who started professionally only 8 years ago at the age of 21, and his amateur career only spanned 20 fights where he was a serviceable 18-2. If more people knew this, the expectation bar that many set comparing him to Mike Tyson would have gone away fast, especially considering that Mike was already a champ by age 20. Now when you consider those things and realize that this guy has not looked great at all times, but has only managed to lose 1 fight in more than 30 outings despite stepping in against some dangerous foes, I think it proves that there is an upside worth exploring. What it's all gonna come down to with Peter is how much he truly wants it. Has the luxuries of the sport, coupled with life in American turned the jungle-boy into a city dweller? Has the hardnosed work ethic learned in his homeland evaporated, replaced by a softer, more sensitive mentality, coming as a result of wealth which has made his life that much easier? There are many scenario's to ponder but in the end, it all comes down to exactly how hungry Peter really is. As it stands, with the proper focus and attention, future success is his to lose. His destiny remains in his hands and no one elses. If this dream of his started out as a quest to become a heavyweight champion and obtain a better life in America, he can achieve it. But if he lacks the focus, he won't receive it. It's that simple. To tie all the lose ends, he can be the 'Nigerian Nightmare' his potential states, or he can be passed off as simply another 'American Fantasy'. For now, the jury's still out as he prepares for a showdown with Vitali Klitschko. Until then and maybe even beyond, the debate continues.....
(Got Feedback or Questions: Contact ESB's Vivek Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org and 954-292-7346, or show him some love at www.myspace.com/anonymouslyinvolved)
LOOK OUT MONDAY FOR MY INTERVIEW CHAT WITH WELTERWEIGHT GREAT LUIS COLLAZO AS HE PREPARES FOR A SHOWDOWN WITH WBC CHAMP ANDRE BERTO.
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